Unlike other garments, tights are conveniently classified by their material thickness, which is specified in the unit of measurement denier, or DEN for short. But what denier do tights come in and which denier levels are really opaque? We will show you what do different denier tights look like and what DEN is best to wear in each season, for the office or a night out.

What does denier mean?

DEN (abbreviation for the French denier) is used to indicate the thickness of the material. Apart from tights, this unit of measurement is nowadays only used for motorcycle clothing or horse blankets. Roughly speaking, the lower the DEN number, the thinner the thighs. The numbers are not chosen arbitrarily but represent the weight in grams that a thread has per 9,000 meters of length. For example, a 50 DEN tights weigh 50 g/ 9,000 meters. Fortunately, you don’t have to do any complicated calculations when choosing your tights, you just have to know how each DEN looks like and which DEN number is suitable for which temperature.

The most popular tights include thin tights in 20 DEN, semi-opaque in 40 DEN, and opaque for colder days in 80 DEN. In between there are many other variations that make it possible to choose the perfect tights for really every season.

80-DEN pantyhose in Black
Instagram @cliointimates

8 – 10 Denier: Perfect tights for the summer

In special stores you can even find ultra-fine tights with only 5 DEN, but usually, it starts from 8-10 DEN. Even in this thickness the material is so thin that the tights are only visible on your legs when you look very closely. With 8 and 10DEN tights you just make your legs look a little more flawless – like with a balancing foundation. Tights with this low denier are only suitable for the summer, as they are not warm. They can even have a slight cooling effect and protect against chafing thighs. However, you should always think about using sunscreen with these, as the thin material does not provide sufficient protection. You should also be careful when putting on this type of hosiery: Experts even recommend wearing gloves. Tights with 10 DEN or less have a short life span and often do not survive more than one to three uses.

Also interesting: How to wash tights correctly

8 - 10 denier perfect tights for summer
Instagram @iulywoo

Example: 8 DEN tights in anthracite (colors are barely visible with 8 DEN)

8 den meaning thin tights
Instagram @iulywoo

12 – 20 Denier: Sheer tights for spring and summer

Tights in 15 and 20 denier are the most common options if you prefer a barely visible and thin material. This thickness is especially suitable for nude tights, which will make your legs look flawless. However, liver spots, tattoos and leg hairs are visible through the thin fabric. The 20 DEN tights are perfect for the office on warm days. If handled carefully, they should survive being worn a few times. But these models are not made to last either, because runnings can quickly occur.

What denier tights to wear with black dress? Opt for 20 DEN in Nude color

20 Denier Tights in Tan for spring
Instagram @bigbloomerscompany

30 Denier: Sheer tights for cooler days

30 denier in black for cooler days
Instagram @mellylifestyle86

The 30 DEN tights are the best compromise between a sheer and an opaque version. In this thickness both nude shades and black look good. Black tights with this denier number do not look very opaque, but let your skin tone shine through.

30 denier in black semi-opaque
Instagram @mellylifestyle86

40 – 50 Denier: Semi-opaque tights

Tights in 40 and 50 DEN are not yet considered opaque. Especially at the knees, the skin still shimmers through. 40 denier tights are warm and already suitable for autumn, winter, and cooler spring days. With this denier number, nude tones no longer look so natural and can quickly appear a bit “grandma-like”. Colorful or black shades are the better choice for 40 and 50 DEN. But watch out: If you don’t want to show off your hairy legs, you should wear opaque tights.

Semi-opaque black 40 denier tights

Semi Opaque 40 denier tights
Instagram @glamory.hosiery

Example: Semi-opaque 50 DEN tights in dark blue

50 Denier Tights in 'Navy denier tights keep warm
Instagram @bigbloomerscompany

60 – 80 Denier: Opaque warm tights

From 60 DEN upwards, tights are considered opaque. These thicker models are the best and warmest choice if you still want fine tights made of microfibres such as nylon, lycra or elastane. 60 DEN tights are perfect for the office and party outfits in autumn and winter. The thick models are quite run-resistant and can also cover moles and hair. However, darker tattoos can still shine through easily.

Read more about Best tights for winter here

Example: 60 DEN opaque tights in Red

red tights denier guide 60 denieri
Instagram @lumingerie

Example: Super opaque 80 DEN tights in Black for winter

denier tights for winter 80 denier
Instagram @cliointimates

100 denier and higher: thermal, knitted and support tights

Starting at 100 DEN, tights are really absolutely opaque – even on the knees. These models are perfect if you want to wear dresses and skirts in winter as well. But because of the thicker fabric, these tights almost look more like leggings. This is also the best way to cover tattoos completely.

Example: Blackout opaque 120 DEN tights in black

denier tights for winter 120 den
Instagram @lumingerie

Note on sustainability: If you also pay attention to sustainability when it comes to clothing, you should preferably use tights from 40 DEN. Even with careful handling and handwashing, models with a lower density are disposable products. Since most tights are not made of biodegradable materials, they represent an environmental burden.

Glossy or matt: Which is better?

With tights, you can choose not only the DEN number and color but also the finish. Nowadays, most people prefer matt tights because they look especially natural. These models are best suited to hide small blemishes and make your legs look slimmer – especially in darker colors. Because they don’t draw attention to your legs, they are the best choice for office outfits.

sheer 15 denier pantyhose
Instagram @silkshosiery

However, if you want to draw attention to your legs, you should go for glossy hosiery. These tights make your legs look as if you have oiled yourself after depilation – at least in the nude version. They emphasize your curves and leg muscles and are perfect if you want to feel sexy. On the other hand, if you don’t like the completely matte or very shiny look, you should go for tights with a satin finish: This version both conceals and emphasizes at the same time.

Best denier tights for night out

what denier tights with black dress shiny 40 denier
Instagram @jul4le
shiny thin tights in nude for summer
Instagram @iulywoo

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About the Author Jessy Adams

Jessy Adams is deeply committed to assisting people in living a more fashionable and healthier lifestyle, and she sincerely feels that this is the key to living a happy life. She has been blogging since 2008. Jessy is the person to go to for advice on fashion, hair, and good eating. She consistently manages to distill difficult themes into tangible advice that her readers can put into action. Jessy's information is always provided in an easy-to-digest format, and she always backs up her advise with credible references.

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